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Bogus report of jet hijacking lands man in federal prison

By Associated Press


A Hawaii man who pleaded guilty to falsely reporting a possible airplane hijacking was sentenced Thursday to a year and a half in federal prison.

Timothy David Hershman said in court that he blames his phone call to the FBI on stupidity, anger and alcoholism. "I screwed up really big time, your honor," he said. "I'm really sorry for this."

Hershman was drunk when called the FBI last year saying another man was going to hijack an Alaska Airlines flight, said Alexander Silvert, his public defender. Authorities determined the other man was aboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Kona to Seattle. After questioning him for nearly two hours, authorities deemed the call a hoax.

"He's an alcoholic, and he gets stupid when gets drunk," Silvert said, explaining that Hershman, 60, wanted to get back at a roommate with whom he was feuding. Prosecutors have said Hershman confessed to making the call, which he placed from a pay phone in Kona, because the man had allegedly put fish guts in his truck.

Hershman's hoax call prompted two Oregon National Guard F-15 fighter jets to escort the flight to Seattle. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Nammar filed a motion requesting that Hershman pay about $72,000 to reimburse the government for fuel and other expenses. According to his motion, the Oregon Guard scrambled to escort the commercial plane in a mission that took nearly four hours.

One of Silvert's arguments against reimbursement was that the expenses were "operational costs" similar to "costs a government would incur in sending out law enforcement officers to deal with a bomb threat, a bank robbery, a gambling den or any other criminal activity."

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright denied the prosecution request Thursday, saying Hershman, who is now homeless and receives $1,300 a month in Social Security benefits, can't afford to pay any restitution. Seabright said the hoax call "had potential serious consequences."


Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press

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droid wrote:
If Hershman is foolish enough to spend his $1300 a month on alcohol instead of a roof over his head, he deserves to be compelled to reimburse the $72,000 expense he caused the government to incur. Taxpayers end up picking up the tab for his stup!d!ty.
on January 24,2014 | 04:18AM
lumahai wrote:
The judge is smart. Why order something that cannot happen.
on January 24,2014 | 05:04AM
Uncleart66 wrote:
Made the call on my Obama phone.
on January 24,2014 | 04:48AM
cojef wrote:
From May 1954 to December 1966 worked under covered work and paid the maximum social security taxes for over 10 years. In 1967 changed jobs and was covered under civil service benefits, yet my social security benefits are under $1,000 far less than the $1,300 per month this character receives. How come? There is something peculiar about the law, that if you were born in 1925 you got screwed as Congress enacted a law that cheated this group of workers on their social security benefits. Weird!
on January 24,2014 | 09:20AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
cojef, Federal employees did not pay into Social Security back then, am I correct? You must be around 88yo. If you retired @ 65 in 1991, your best 35 years of contributing into the system didn't amount to much, especially if working for the Feds from 1967-1991. I met an old retired stevedore 15 years ago. He must've paid into SS a lot. However, he was disappointed that his SS benefits were only $900 monthly. That was because wages were much less than it is today. When I started collecting SS, my best 35 years were from ages 27 to 62. Since I'm still working during retirement, currently my best years are from ages 32 to present. Basically, the more you made during your best 35 years, the more you get back. No one knows this guy's work history. His SS investment could have been substantial. Orrr, he pulled a fast one, when he applied for SSI.
on January 24,2014 | 10:49AM
cojef wrote:
Yep, 88 and still chugging along. While with civil service at that time we had separate annuity plan, yes. Currently they have social security, I guess.
on January 24,2014 | 02:25PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
cojef, you're an inspiration.:)
on January 24,2014 | 03:28PM
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